Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Real Problem Between Atheism and Feminism

I posted this link to an article about misogyny recently on Facebook. 

Things got ugly real fast. I blocked a few folks, deleted a few comments and tried to mitigate the damage with little success. You see, what tends to happen on Facebook is someone makes a post then as responses start, the intent of the post is quickly lost (if it was ever understood to begin with) as the thread descends into personality clashes, new, often irrelevant arguments, and barely disguised. okay, let's be honest, undisguised contempt for everyone who dares to challenge the simple, eloquent brilliance of the next person's comment.

I freely admit that I'm just as vulnerable, and guilty, as the next person in this regard. To be fair, I truly believe that MOST people posting feel passionate about the subject and genuinely want to change things. But I'm increasingly realizing that the Facebook thread format is NOT the venue for genuine discussion and debate. The structure and controls are just not there.

Near the end of the thread a woman posted a comment that was critical of my position. I took a deep breath and began writing my response to her. Because I genuinely want this issue to be fixed in the atheist community. As I formed my response it got longer and longer and I realized it needed more time and attention...and another venue. So here I am. 

It's impossible to fairly summarize the entire thread so I won't try. But I will start by pasting in the post that started my writing:

"Why is an imbalance in an authors readership inherently a problem? "You have women here in this very thread talking about why it's a problem. You've had women tell you in other threads you've posted like this, and, more widely, in comments, and essays, and books, and articles...we've been talking about lack of representation, lack of welcome, sexism, etc for A LONG TIME. To act like that conversation hasn't already taken place MANY TIMES is either ignorant or deceitful.Nate, I grew up as you did--in a very fundamentalist, anti-feminist sect. And even after I walked away from fundamentalism, I had a very hard time understanding the feminist position because I had a lot of misogynistic programming in my head. It took a very long time to overcome most of that (not all--it still crops up. I still combat it every day.) My best advice to you would be to stop talking and start LISTENING. Women are talking about this stuff. If you truly want to know what we think then GO OUT AND FIND THE MANY MANY PLACES WHERE WE'VE ALREADY EXPLAINED THIS. If you are truly interested, then do the work to find out. Because, honestly, if you aren't willing to do that work, then it appears as if you're trying to score a rhetorical point ie "Welp, no one told me why it was wrong that there's not a lot of women actively involved in atheism (in the exact time and place I specified,) so I can continue thinking there's no problem."

I do not contend that there is not imbalance in the atheist movement. I lived with such an imbalance throughout my childhood. I accept the evidence for that as well as some evidence that women continue to be treated as less than in this community and the world at large. I have never taken any position other than that. 

I have, however started expressing my growing frustration over how polarizing and destructive the topic has become. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no room for nuanced discussion. At the same time, there is an increasing willingness to knee jerk plant everyone who decides to talk about it outside the accepted framework directly in the misogynist camp. Common sense tells us that's nonsense, but we continue to do it. And it's getting worse.  

Just as in the majority of issues in life, I believe the truth about feminism and sexism lies somewhere in the uncomfortable grayness of it all. 

So, back to this post and my intention. My intention, not the dozens of intentions attached to me by various posters here:

1. The original interview with Harris included a question about why he thought the majority of his readership were men.
2. Ms. Marcotte referenced that question in her article, changed it to the majority of atheists, then criticized his response saying "Harris didn’t even consider that it could be atheism that has a problem." 
3. In her use of the term "problem" relative to his response about his readership, she neatly switched the argument to something it was not. Harris' response was about his readership, NOT atheism in general.
4. I thought it was important to point out that switch because it says something to me. Just like the photo of a hunch-backed Dawkins, the presumptive title (at least where Harris is concerned), and the plethora of inflammatory terms such as "sexist blather", hyper-defensive, etc, this article increases the misinformation and divide. We don't need that! More important it feeds a frenzied segment of the movement who are now convinced that there is a conspiracy of atheists determined to push women's rights back to the middle ages.

This issue is clearly fraught with emotion. I get that. I also get that I can only relate to women, as with every other human, on an intellectual level. I'm not a woman and I can't understand it completely. I'm reminded constantly in my interactions with humans that women have no choice, at this point, but to view and interact with the world as though it were more dangerous than men have to view and interact with it. I also understand that it should not be this way.

But continuing to tolerate this kind of yellow journalism and continuing to attack misogyny with a blunt club is just going to separate us more. I watched the same thing happen in America during the Civil Rights Movement. Intolerance of any message that challenged status quo was brutally beaten down.

Consider this from the article:
"First, he warmed up with the “women are humorless” gambit, declaring his “estrogen vibe” comment a joke that simply flew over female heads."
Is it possible it was a joke? Isn't it a legal principal that we look at the entire body of evidence to help us decide the intent of a specific word or deed? Does Harris have a history of misogyny? In our search for REAL enemies of feminism, do we do the movement justice by automatically labeling everyone who offends us as a sexist jerk?

"He then moved on to produce an awesome cornucopia of sexist blather: Women’s value is their service to men. (“I was raised by a single mother. I have two daughters. Most of my editors have been women, and my first, last, and best editor is always my wife.”)"

Wait, what?!? His acknowledgement of the importance and value of women in his life is sexist? Seriously, is that the idea we want to put on our placards as we march toward equality? Further, there is no fair reading of his words that amounts to "women's value is their service to men". I can't help but wonder at the response had Sam, instead talked about all the men in his life who had taught him to respect women and live as equals with them. Without question their would be these same articles attacking him for relying on the words of privileged old white men. 

And that brings me to another point. If white male privilege renders old white man opinions impotent, why the great out cry over every real and perceived slight?

Women’s inherent desire to serve rather than lead explains their second-class status. (“For instance, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women…How much is due to the disproportionate (and heroic) sacrifices women make in their 20s or 30s to have families?”) 

Context Ms. Marcotte, context. This is what Mr. Harris said before and after the cherry picking:
I am well aware that sexism and misogyny are problems in our society. However, they are not the only factors that explain differences in social status between men and women. For instance, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. How much of this is the result of sexism? How much is due to the disproportionate (and heroic) sacrifices women make in their 20’s or 30’s to have families? How much is explained by normally distributed psychological differences between the sexes? I have no idea, but I am confident that each of these factors plays a role. Anyone who thinks disparities of this kind must be entirely a product of sexism hasn’t thought about these issues very deeply.
Putting women on a pedestal is better than treating them like equals. (“I tend to respect women more than men.”) 
Women who don’t defer to men are bitchy. (“However, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the mixture of contempt and pity my words elicited from this young woman.”)

It is as though the author developed a list of "bad things that misogynists do" then went searching for evidence in Harris' response that he was one. That's not good journalism, and it's not good for this movement. 

Does anyone honestly think that this article did anything to move our society toward resolving the real issues of feminism? Does this article give us tools for working together? What I believe this article does is provide a great example of the tone that is a very real, very destructive, part of this conversation.

Now I will say something that will probably be met with outrage from all sides, but it is what I have observed with other social conflicts and what I have experienced personally in my life. The real solution to sexism will not be found in indignation, it will come from the action of women. You will not succeed at your goal of equality in all areas of life unless you do the hard work. Over and over again I saw members of the black community walking away from the rhetoric and digging in. Over and over again I see woman turning their back on the hyperbole of the movement and just doing it. I talk to women who refuse to spend time on defining the layers of psychology and intent of the enemy and just diving in, being the person, taking the action, to insure that they...they are not treated unequal. 

The Freethought movement simply IS NOT a cesspool of sexism and mysogyny. The Freethought movement has, by and large, responded quickly and effectively to deal with real examples of mistreatment that occur in our community. Contrary to the weird arguments I hear too often, the movement is not dictated to by Mr. Dawkins, Mr. Harris, or any other so called leaders. And there is absolutely no evidence that anyone worth listening to has an agenda against women that they are determined to inculcate into the minds of zombie atheists.

It's time for us to stop looking for high profile boogie men. It's time for us to allow a free exchange of ideas within the two movements without imposing a binary component to it. Sure, introduce your ideas. There are those in the movement who I respect for their willingness to, by and large, present their case without the need for name calling and line drawing. But the nonsense that happened on my thread has got to stop.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

There's Too Much Noise

I recently posted this on Facebook:
I gotta seems like it's become a favourite past time of people to take something Dawkins says, present it in the worst light possible, then have a bitch fest about his sorry, privileged, European white ignorance.It's kind of scary.
There were a variety of  interesting responses and then this from my brother in law:
Sounds like what you guys do with christians and the bible. So whats the problem? to respond to that? Hoisted on my on petard? How did I get here?

Of course, it's not the same thing at all. Criticism of someone's ideas, and attacking him personally when you disagree, is not the same as saying that a 2000 year old belief system that has been demonstrably dangerous and destructive should be reconsidered with a jaundiced eye.

But it was an insightful comment from another point of view. This argument...that a group is being personally attacked because their ideas are being just one of many examples of what I refer to as "noise". It's reached a point for me that when someone invokes certain arguments in a discussion, I will just walk away. In fact, a few months back I introduced:
Phelps Law: "At some point during an online debate, someone will say something along the lines of "everyone is entitled to their own beliefs". When this happens, it will signal the end of the debate and that the person who makes the comment has lost."
To me, when an issue is raised and someone raises a challenge to that issue, the discussion is about the issue. Period. It is not about those advocating for or against the position, it's not about hurting feelings, it's not about muddying the water with irrelevant comments. Bertrand Russell says that when you consider a matter you should look only, and solely, at the facts and draw your conclusions from that. it is incumbent on all of us to look closely at our replies, especially online, and ask the question...does this comment focus on the argument, or does it create noise. If' it's noise, don't post it.

And there is a lot of noise out there. An easy 80% of all the comments on that thread included noise. We need to become masters of noise reduction. We need to become more disciplined in our debate and discussion etiquette. Myself included.

If you find yourself resorting to noise, maybe it's time for you to back away and reconsider your position. There is no shame in discovering you hold an untenable position. There is great shame in refusing to change your mind in the face of overwhelming evidence. There is no shame in embracing the grayness of life. Black and white...absolutes...rarely represent reality.

Concede those points you lose. Agree to look into matters you don't understand and revisit the discussion another time.

Stop attacking people personally when you don't like their argument. You look like a bully and it doesn't advance your position at all.

Stop labeling people or groups in an effort to gain the upper hand in an argument. It weakens your position and leaves you vulnerable to the same tactics from others.

Stop labeling arguments. Using inflammatory or catch phrases just muddies things up and makes it impossible to keep the focus on the argument.

Stop telling people you have a right to your beliefs. No one is threatening that right, no one could take it from you if they wanted to.

And...please...stop believing stuff just because someone told you to!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

That's Not Real Christianity

I lived in Topeka and went to KU. I’m writing because I read the story about you... I watched your story...and...I don’t want you to give up on making the movie because of what I’m going to tell you.

Last year my mother and my sister and me went to a concert and Westboro was there with their signs. We were celebrating my sister’s birthday that night since she was 14. Even though we grew up in Topeka we had never seen the people and the signs up close until that night and we had to walk close by them to get in the building for the show. Two of the boys in the Westboro people and a woman picked on my sister and said mean things to her because she was kind of a tomboy. We went on to the concert but my sister was crying about what the boys and the woman said to her. Two days later my sister hung herself on the rod in her closet. She left a note that said she was gay and dying in the closet was easier then living in it. Those signs and the hateful things that Westboro did killed my sister. Three months later my mom overdosed on pills and was in a coma for two weeks until she died. She thought my sister dying was her fault because she made us go to church and they taught that gay was bad...

From a friend"

Saying anything beyond this seems to dilute the impact.  I've deleted some content in the interest of protecting the author. 

At the same time this letter came to my attention I was reading a blog by a friend. The blog wasn't what stirred me though. I mean, the blog was great...her blogs are always great...but it was the comments on the blog that got me thinking. Specifically, it was one of those comments where someone insists that Westboro isn't real Christianity, most Christians aren't that way. Then the commenter goes on to explain that "real" Christians don't hate, they just think that some behaviours are evil and those who engage in them will  suffer exquisite torture for eternity.  

See the difference?

Well I sure as hell don't!

For the young girl in this letter, I can guarantee-damn-tee you that the difference was lost on her. I have no doubt that this girl spent years listening to the teachings of "real" Christians as they played word games that let them feel good about hating, while sending her the loud and clear message that she was evil and would suffer for it.

It's times like these when I grow weary of the bullshit. It's times like these when I am disgusted that someone wants to parse words and try to carve out a middle ground where they can justify their kinder, gentler hate while people are dying! I don't give a damn about any particular version of fantasy/religion when I imagine the real world reality of a parent finding their child hanging in a closet, or when I try to put myself in the shoes of this writer as she struggles to come to terms with the real world loss of a sister and mother.  

Ideas have consequences. Don't you dare get on your self righteous  horse and try to tell me that your version of hate isn't just another version of hate.  If you follow "I don't have a problem with gay people" with a " but", you are responsible for the death of this girl. Period!

There is no middle ground here folks. Either you accept that every human on this planet has the same rights you do, or you are complicit in the deaths of those you would trod underfoot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Snickers & "The Bus"

The other evening my Angela commented that she was worried about our cat Snickers. Several times she had caught him just suddenly falling over. We started watching him closer and, sure enough, there's something wrong with the little guy. After we both saw him suddenly flop on his side I looked into Angela's face and saw the same anguish I was feeling. We started talking about him. The funny and crazy experiences we'd had with him...walking him to the groomer strapped into a baby walker...Angela sleeping all night at the bottom of a tree that he was stuck in. In all of that there was strong, painful emotion. We didn't want to lose him, we castigated ourselves for not enjoying him more, and in the days that followed I found both of us deliberately spending more time with Snickers. The typical cuddling and petting that he loves took on a greater urgency as I was determined to appreciate him while we still had the time.

A few weeks ago I met James Lantz. He is a professor, a playwright, a father and a husband. He wrote a play called 'The Bus". It was received so well that he was invited to take it to an off Broadway theater in New York for a few months. "The Bus" is about two young men, their relationship, and the tragedy of social pressure on gay relationships. James decided that he wanted to also try to take the play to Topeka and perform it in close proximity to my family so he asked me to read the play and perhaps support his efforts. I read it and I wept.

Not long ago I came across an interesting article that explained the latest scientific discoveries about how the brain responds to ideas that are contrary to our existing beliefs. It seems that the emotion part of our brain responds more than a half second before the logic part kicks in. It seemed to support the idea that we are prone to find justification for a belief, and defend it for emotional reasons, before we will look unflinchingly at any evidence that challenges it.

What do these three different topics have in common? Well, I'm still trying to work that out. I know that all my life I have led with my emotions. I know that it is the things that I feel that cause me to make changes in my life. And it seems to me that it's something worth considering and pointing out on this topic of gay rights.

When James flew to Calgary to meet with me we spent several hours just talking, getting to know each other. He told me some of the things that motivated him to write "The Bus" and one of the issues he raised was this spate of suicides by gay people last year. I had the thought then that we spend so much time making cerebral arguments about the pros and cons of bringing ourselves out of the dark ages and finally treating another group of people in our society equally. But do we ever talk openly and publicly about the struggle to live life as a gay person? Do we consider the incredible effort and energy that the best of them must expend just to feel okay about themselves?

It's easy to get people's attention when five or six young people take their lives because they can't imagine continuing that battle. But what about the thousands and thousands who continue the fight, ever hopeful that one day, the world will get it: This is not an issue to vilify people over! There is zero evidence to suggest that we are threatened or harmed by this lifestyle, Yet we persist in scapegoating them and pointing to their differences as the cause of all our woes.

Something has to touch our hearts. Something has to stir our emotions and cause real, lasting change in the ideals that we embrace. Perhaps experiencing "The Bus" is one of those things. I spend my days asking this question over and over: What can I do to impact people and cause them to reconsider their prejudice toward the LGBT community?

I think it would be a positive response for James to bring this drama to Topeka and help that community combat the heart of hatred that beats there at my father's home and church. Think for a moment about a young child sitting alone, in the dark, in their room. They have encountered my family's message of divine hatred for who they are and they are afraid and hopeless. There are enough messages, both overt and subtle, in their lives to help reinforce the unthinkable, that they don't have a right to be who they are. Whatever it takes, pause for a moment and imagine that suffering. Now imagine what you can do to improve the heart and mind of that child. Imagine supporting James Lantz and "The Bus". Do something good while you still can.

Snickers just came over and rubbed himself against my black pants. Now I gotta get all the damn hair off...what a pain in the @#$! On the other hand, I think I'll stop here and spend a few minutes with him while I still can.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Duplicity of WBC

In a recent news story on CNN ( my youngest sister Abigail made this comment regarding KKK members counter protesting their presence at Arlington National Cemetary: "People like them say it's white power...white supremacy. The Bible doesn't say anywhere that it's an abomination to be born of a certain gender or race."

From my perspective this is a study in deceit and duplicity.

First of all, my father taught us from infancy that the black race was cursed by god. This passage from Genesis 9 was his justification:

And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.

And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be hisservant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

This passage was used by my father to demonstrate that the black race was cursed of god and justifiably enslaved.

Much is made of the fact that my father was a civil rights attorney in the late 60's and 70's. Surely someone who worked for the equality of blacks can't be so bad. Again, from an insiders point of view, this argument doesn't wash. While my father did a tremendous amount of good in defense of equality for blacks, this was not evidence of his real attitude toward them. In addition to his Bible based prejudice, he made no bones about how he really felt toward them when he was around his family. It was not uncommon at all for my father, as well as his children, to refer to black clients in his office as "DN"s (dumb niggers), even in their presences. His southern upbringing surely informed his practiced disdain for the black race, but no doubt it was bolstered and entrenched by his interpretation of the bible as well.

Abby also references gender in her comment. As I've often mentioned, my father made it crystal clear that women were second class citizens in the eyes of god. Women were to keep silent, they were to cover their heads in church and they were to keep their hair uncut. Women were to be in subjection to their husbands and husbands were entitled to, no, required to use whatever means necessary to bring them back into subjection if they strayed. My father demonstrated his eager willingness to obey that commandment over the years by physically beating his wife and, at one point, coarsely chopping off her hair when he found her submission lacking. Eve had been deceived by a snake and was therefore lower in the eyes of god and my father.

Lest someone inject here that they are not practicing true Christianity, I would point out that the Old Testament is replete with admonishments about the status of women and Paul gleefully reinforces the idea throughout his letters to the early church.

Let's take a moment to consider Abigail's words a little closer. Note that she doesn't come right out and say that blacks and women aren't inferior to white men. She asserts that the Bible stops short of calling them an abomination. It's subtle if you aren't paying attention, but makes a powerful difference in understanding the real teachings of Fred Phelps and the WBC. Homosexuality is an abomination, god is REALLY pissed at them. But there is a kinder, gentler prejudice that they reserve for colored brethren and the fairer sex. Fred's god will accept them, at least in theory, so long as they don't get to uppity and know their place in the divine hierarchy.

One final thought that is only tangentially relevant in that the topic came up in the article. A counter protester was quoted as saying "It's the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech". Perhaps someone can correct me if my logic is flawed, but this argument has always bothered me as a justification for outrage at their protests of military funerals. If we're arguing that the right to free speech is intact because of the sacrifices of these soldiers, then are we not obliged to step aside and let such protests happen unchallenged? Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not arguing in favor of protests at ANY funeral. I'm simply suggesting that this particular argument is not well conceived and should be dropped from the arsenal of counter protesters. Protesting at funerals is wrong for many reasons. I'm not sure that this is one of them.

Yes, my family hates homosexuals. In spite of Abby's words, they also hold women and blacks in similar low esteem. If they are going to insult the world with their hateful theology, I believe they have a duty to minimize the deceit and let the world see the unvarnished truth of just how profound and insidious that hate is.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Super, Natural Kamloops, British Columbia

I was reminded of the current marketing slogan for British Columbia as our plane descended into the Kamloops airport. As the Thompson River passed beneath, "Super, Natural British Columbia" seemed just about right.

The Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought held their first ever major conference this past weekend, entitled "Imagine No Religion". I was invited to speak at the conference and it was a remarkable experience. Bill Ligertwood and his wonderful group of volunteers went out of their way to make the event a great success.

I was honored to meet and spend time with fellow presenters PZ Myers, Brian (Mr. Deity) Dalton, Jen "Boobquake" McCreight, Christopher DiCarlo, Stuart Bechman, and Justin Trottier.

There were some great highlights, but to try to list them here would leave the wrong impression that I didn't learn something important from every one of the presentations. PZ opened and closed the conference with timid presentations on evolution and dead gods. Justin discussed the growth and direction of organized freethought, Jen challenged the movement to consider the benefits of including the wealth of information available from women and minorities, Chris offered tremendous insight into why we think and act the way we do, Stuart discussed the history and roots of modern scientific inquiry and Mr. Deity gave us much needed insight into the mind of Him whose ways are past finding out.

The crowd was, in short, amazing. One guest presented me with a beautiful, hand crafted, silver book marker. Another one gave me a provocative T-shirt from the Saskatoon Freethinkers and near the end of the conference Bill presented all the speakers with a bottle of "Blasted Church, Big Bang" wine from a nearby Okanagan winery. Don't think that didn't take some explaining at airport security.

As the director of the Centre for Inquiry in Calgary, I make much of the importance of creating social systems within our growing community...providing regular opportunities for those in the atheist/freethinker/skeptic community to connect and interact. As West Jet climbed homeward I reflected on how grateful I am to be involved in such a community. The immoral, deviant atheist that my father imagined is as much a figment of fevered mythology as the gods and demons of his blind faith. The people of Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought are as thoughtful, kind, caring and giving a people as you will find, and I am better for having met and interacted with them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Is The World I Live In

I suppose it was inevitable that I would inadvertently "friend" people on Facebook who are allied with the ideology of my family. Louis Theroux's new documentary about my family was the impetus for just such a contact recently. Rather than describe it, I'll just republish the back and forth. Just to clarify, there is one other young lady, also a devout Christian, who challenges the original poster. To protect their anonymity, I'll call the original poster "Mary" and the other lady "Linda"

The thread starts with a link to the new documentary and this comment from "Mary". Spelling and punctuation have been preserved to provide whatever insight it may:

THe WBC church reminds me of the way the christian church used to be in the past

Which past "Mary"? The Crusades, the Inquisition, The Salem Witch Trials? The truth is we have very little understanding of the Christian church in the past and we certainly don't have any evidence that this one version of one religion is the one path to the one god.

THe bible is the same as today as yesterday if you do not live by the bible you will go to hell

At this point, I had just finished reading an excellent article by Chris Hitchens in Vanity Fair. The article, in part, addressed this very assertion.

Here's a link to a current article that puts the lie to that comment "Mary":

This is just a drop in the bucket. There are libraries of information out there that demonstrate conclusively that the bible has changed profoundly and deliberately throughout it's 1900 years of existence in some form or another.

I do not believe in the stuff what comes from man kind I know it is a lie anytime you get to know the Humanist they turn out to be just like what the wbc church says about them the bible was written by god and it is the oldest book in the world


but "Mary" you have to read it... and not trust fred phelps... He can lie as easy as any other man.... Nathan lived in that enviorment... he knows their doctrine...listen to him and then also read your bible and you can easily disprove any point the church makes

I can tell that fred phelps knows the bible with out looking it up because i know the christian religion and if you like nate phelps then you are not a believer in the bible

I do as well "Mary"... and their are many other christians that can do the same. I was in a class for spiritual formation at my christian college and we had a athiest in our class... and he could quote the scripture better than anyone since he had studied the bible over and over and over... Just because I like nate phelps doesnt mean I do not believe the bible.... In my class the athiest was converted after the class was over yet even if he was not... It is my duty as a christian to treat him kindly and set the SAME example christ would set not the example of satan

I think nate phelps was just a rebellion

maybe so.... every one has a right to their opinion... yet even as a athiest you are called to show him kindness and compassion because that is what christ call you to do... he doesnt call you to hate others he tells you to love your enemies and to feed them when they are hungry and to give them water when they thirst... he does not say bash them cuss them curse them.... like it or not KC NATE phelps was made in the image of GOD too.... hun... i can tell you have a wonderful heart and one that yearns for GOD... PLEASEPLEASE PLEAASE open the scriptures and find the real truth

steve drain says that if you love your neighbor, you will point out were he is wrong to let him do what he wants to is like hating your neighbor,

Steve Drain...there's a wellspring of original thought.

ok do you see how you are quoting other people and not the word of GOD... you are following man which makes them your idol... and you have a very jealous GOD.... the bible state yes you are to correct your neighbor but in doing so ---
Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
did you see that./.... not word but GODS.... he tells us just the two of you... not picketing... calling someone out which is dishonoring... which is also talked about in the bible

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

Linda: ‎
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

they are showing commpassion to others

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 talks about love, what it is and what it is not. This forum is not just for those who believe in God and get into His Word, this applies to all who have been or are looking to fall in love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13

4: Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5: It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6: Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

7: It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.

8: Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

"Mary" is the church any of these when they picket????

well for me it led me back to church i have been attending for 6 months

my point is proven do not go by the word of steve drain go by the word of GOD "Mary"... look in cor for yourself what love is the apostle paul defines love clearly... or google love in the bible to pull up scripture.... it will take you straight there.

So I'm watching this back and forth between the two young ladies and my head is about to explode from all the assumptions and logical fallacies. I finally decide to speak my piece and walk away from this conversation. I ended with this:

First of all "Mary", of COURSE I rebelled. The fact that I'm not there is by definition rebellion. You have much to learn in life and chief among them is to question the meaning of words. One of the most powerful tools used by people like my father is words. You hear words like rebel and the immediate perception is bad. The important question when you hear that term is: what did they rebel against? Is rebellion a proper response in the circumstance? It's a non-starter for you to dismiss someone by labeling them rebellious. GO DEEPER!

As for "Linda's" point about rebuking, I would also urge you to read the process that Paul prescribes. Implicit in his words is the intuitive understanding that we all have in us that RELATIONSHIP is paramount in that process. Human's are tribal by their nature. Centuries of experience tell us to be slow to trust, to accept input only from those who are in a position of trustworthiness. It is utter nonsense for my family to suggest that they have the right to go around and blast total strangers, whom they know nothing about, over sins that they can only assume.

Don't ever let someone's superior knowledge of a subject be the justification for accepting everything they say. Historically, men with a far greater understanding of the words of the Bible have drawn conclusions diametrically opposed to the conclusions of my father. That reason alone should give you pause in just accepting his dogma because "fred phelps knows the bible".

Finally, you said that you 'do not believe in the stuff what comes from man kind". Do you hear yourself? Without any evidence to justify it, you have exalted the words of the WBC above "man kind". What are their words if not "stuff [coming] from man kind"? Is it because you assume they alone use the Bible for their words? If so, you have NO BUSINESS accepting a single thing they say until you have confirmed it INDEPENDENTLY for yourself, in the Bible. That DOES NOT mean asking them for the verses and blindly accepting their interpretation. It means you spending the necessary time studying it YOURSELF. Otherwise you are simply a parrot of another man's belief system.

Make no mistake "Mary", I could care less what conclusions you draw on this subject or any other. What I do care about PASSIONATELY is that every person take responsibility to learn how to think critically and never, EVER accept something as truth without researching it themselves. It is that standard that led me away from the black and white, indefensible, hateful dogma of my father. That's what I rebelled against and I carry the label of Rebel proudly.